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tv   2020  ABC  April 16, 2016 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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do you think you will ever get over being known as mary kay willer the know, the teacher who spent with her student? tonight, on "20/20" saturday, you think you know
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their scandal. >> for every answer i got right on the test, she was going to take one of her clothing off. >> the beautiful blond teacher, 34 years old, and the 13-year-old student, in love with each other. >> i was her second grade student, i thought she was very pretty. ill thought she was, like, a movie star. >> one time, he came straight out and said, would you ever have an affair? >> this 13-year-old boy says to his teacher, would you have an affair. >> what you don't know. >> there is a story of us that has a life of its own, but it's not our story. >> the barbara walters exclusive. the questions. >> do you ever feel that you unied his childhood? >> i loved him very much. >> did you feel disgusted with yourself? >> their years apart, when she was in prison. >> wasn't faithful. >> your turn. >> he did his thing. i was gone. >> now, on their tenth anniversary, are they happy?
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>> tonight, meet the entire family. >> do you know the story of how they met? >> their teenage daughters. >> if one of your daughters came to you and said, i'm sleeping with my teacher, what would you say? >> tonight, mary kay and willi. good evening, i'm elizabeth vargas. welcome to "20/20" saturday. it was a name that stood for scandal. that disgraced teacher that had her secret romantic relationship with a sixth grader, 21 years younger. but now, their romance is no longer criminal, it's a marriage, complete with teenage daughters. joys, yes, but are there regrets? what did our barbara walters find out? >> reporter: they could be any family visiting new york city, happily snapping selfies, taking
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at ellen's stardust diner. but they are certainly not just any family. and this? not just any vacation. they are here to celebrate ten years of marriage, a major milestone for a couple infamous for having one of the most reviled relationships in recent memory. >> i don't know if enough time will ever pass where it will take away what the media did to our story. because it was so big and they ran with it so fast. there's a story of us that has a life of its own, but it's not our story. >> reporter: but remember, theirs was not your ordinary boy meets girl story. for in this tale, the boy, vili fuallaau, really was a boy, a sixth grader, to be exact.
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teacher, married mother of four, mary kay letourneau. today, student and teacher are now husband and wife, living in the quiet suburbs of seattle. but tonight, they've emerged from their ordinarily private life, knowing full well that their anniversary is yet an other opportunity for a prying public to judge them. why did you decide to do it? i'm very pleased that you did. i'm pleased that you trusted me. but why did you decide to do it? >> well, it is our ten-year anniversary. and we already know that no matter how protective we are, there's going to be a wave of intrusion that we can't stop. so, it's about doing the most responsible thing to protect our girls for the inevitable. >> reporter: you'll meet their two girls, now teenagers, later.
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you with the story that captured the country nearly two decades ago. an iliicit love affair that became the scandal heard round the world. >> there is a hearing scheduled today for mary kay will tour knee. >> after being found meeting with a teenage former love. >> it was salacious, was scandalous and it was completely shocking. >> reporter: the year? 1997. her life seemed picture perfect, mary, the beautiful blond with the handsome husband and four adorable children. but she was harboring an unthinkable secret. the once doting mother and elementary school teacher was having an affair with a 13-year-old former student. >> 35-year-old teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old six grader. >> reporter: by the end of that summer, that secret was exposed. >> 35-year-old teacher has an affair with a 13-year-old student, becomes pregnant.
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young lover's child. a media firestorm ignited. mary plead guilty to child rape, and lost custody of her newborn baby daughter. she was released from prison after only a few short months under the condition that she stay away from her former student. >> i give you my word that it will not happen again. >> reporter: but less than a month later, amazingly, she broke that promise, risking it all. she violated her parole, snuck out in the dead of night for another illicit rendezvous with her barely adolescent love. the couple caught by police in this car. she was sent back to finish the rest of her prison sentence. >> these violations are extraordinarily egregious and profoundly disturbing. the suspended sentence is hereby revoked and the original sentence of 89 months is
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another bombshell. mary was pregnant again. and this time, she would give birth behind bars. when she was finally released in 2004 -- >> can you tell us how it is to be out? >> reporter: -- after serving seven and a half years, i, along with almost every other journalist, wanted to interview with her. she agreed to sit down with me. i traveled to seattle, and while i was able to meet vili fualaau, interviewing him was off limits. does this age difference bother you at all? >> i'm sure we both wish that we were closer in age, so that we would have the longest time possible with each other. >> reporter: do you plan to marry vili? >> we've always planned that, and it hasn't changed. >> reporter: today, mary is 53. vili is 31. and this time around, he agreed to join us for the interview. mary, we last spoke ten years ago. i can't believe that, but it was.
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from prison. now you two have been married for ten years. what's the marriage like? fill me in. >> well, it's -- it's marriage. it's more taking care of the children and, of course, marriage is great. >> reporter: have they been ten good years? >> ten good years? >> reporter: yeah -- >> i don't think there's ever a full ten good years of marriage. but you know, you have your ups and downs in marriages. but you know, what matters is how you pull through all the bad times. >> reporter: tell me about your wedding. you got married how long after you got out of prison? >> well, i think it was about ten months. the wedding -- it was fun to plan. i take you, vili, to be me constant best friend. >> reporter: theirs was a lavish
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washington state. among the 250 guests? two of mary's children from her first marriage. her daughters with vili served as the flower girls. >> there were a lot of things at the last few weeks that were impacting -- that, perhaps, other people don't have to deal with. >> reporter: like, what kinds of things? >> more logistics and about keeping the location private. >> reporter: a lot of paparazzi, a lot of photographers, a lot of noise around you, yes? >> media wasn't privy to the location. we were trying to protect our guests. >> reporter: but they parlayed the private function into a big payday, reportedly selling the rights to their wedding video to "entertainment tonight" for a rumored $750,000. a down payment on a new life. tell me about mary.
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mary's mary. mary is -- she's late to everything. almost everything. >> reporter: describe vili. what kind of husband is he? >> he's the kind of husband that i love. in comparison to stereotypical husbands, i'm not, let me think about that. >> reporter: considerate. >> well -- >> reporter: romantic? >> he's spontaneous. >> reporter: spontaneous. >> i like that. so -- yeah. i love that, actually. >> reporter: surprisingly, mary says she never felt compelled to leave the surburban enclave of seattle, where her scandal erupted. they live in the very same community where she lived with her first husband and four older children. on the surface, it's a pleasant life, but just below the surface, there is a notoriety they cannot escape. >> we do normal things, we go shopping, we're at the gas station, we're out and about. and people come up to us.
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>> reporter: they recognize you. have your girls been bullied or teased because of your relationship? >> no. >> what i was going to say, our girls are in the same school district that i taught in, and so, they are in school with teachers that i used to work with. we got married and it was about getting on with life. we didn't move away. it was just about getting on track with life. >> next -- before that life began, pictures of a smitten sixth grader. why he was attracted to her. >> i thought she was, like, a movie star. >> and, what if their own daughters dated a teacher? >> would you think, jail, they should punished? what would you think? >> when "20/20" saturday continues. i don't want to live with the uncertainties of hep c. or wonder whether i should seek treatment. i am ready. because today there's harvoni.
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>> reporter: but it was more than their age difference that set them apart. they came from two very different worlds. vili, the samoan boy from a broken home, and mary, born into a strict catholic family, her life was soon marred by tragedy. first, her 3-year-old brother, who mary was supposed to be watching, drowned in the backyard pool. then, her father, a u.s. congressman, was discovered to have had a mistress, and two illegitimate children. some say that these events helped shape mary's complicated future. i want to go back to the beginning. when did you first meet him, or notice him, or how did that start? >> oh -- >> that story. >> oh, that story. >> that story. >> reporter: that story begins when mary met and got to know vili faulaau, first as a 7-year-old in her second grade class.
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i thought she was, like, a movie star. >> reporter: then, a few years later, he was in her class again. this time, in the sixth grade. vili was just one year older than mary's eldest son. >> i thought she was still beautiful. i thought she still looked like a movie star. >> incidentally, i didn't think anything. i didn't know he was looking at me that way at all. and i was just doing -- i was just teaching. and he was as important as every one of my students at the time, although he was trouble. >> reporter: why? >> oh, he just is. he just is trouble. >> reporter: as the year passed, mary spent more time with vili, helping him develop what she thought was a gift for drawing. in our 2004 interview, mary told me about an incident at the end of that school year that would change everything.
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of attraction? >> well, there was an emotional attraction and that was late, late in the year, toward the end actually. and that was -- we just had bonded. we have similar interests and i knew that he had girl interests and i did suspect -- oh, i knew definitely it was extending in my direction. and i just really -- i just really ignored it. i just thought that was -- >> reporter: he would say things to you? like what? >> well, one time he just came straight out and said, "would you ever have an affair?" >> reporter: this 13-year-old boy says to his teacher, "would you ever have an affair?"
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12-year-old boy says to you, "mrs. letourneau, would you ever have an affair?" >> i thought to myself, do not look him in the eyes. stay very busy. and it was very uncomfortable for me. >> reporter: and then? >> he knew that i was avoiding all of his comments and insinuations. and this time he was very assertive and wanted a response. and when i looked him in the eyes, i -- it really took me back. >> reporter: because you felt something? >> i did, yeah. and basically he said that he was in love with me. >> reporter: mary, what did you say? >> i said, "can you hold that for a long, long time?"
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this time, her 12-year marriage to her college sweetheart steve was crumbling. then that summer, the relationship with vili took the fateful turn from emotional to sexual. >> the incident was a late night, that it didn't stop with a kiss. and i thought that it would and it didn't. >> reporter: did you feel guilty? >> i didn't feel any different than i had felt years earlier, before i was married, in a couple situations with a few guys, where i thought, "how did it get to this?"
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disgusted with yourself? >> well, for one, i loved him very much. and i kind of thought, why can't it ever just be a kiss? >> reporter: but now we all know it did not stop with a kiss. >> my reaction, i think it's disbelief, you know? denial, for a long time. that a person could possibly, basically jeopardize everything that they know in their life. >> reporter: branded a child rapist, she was ordered not to have any contact with vili. but the two would communicate through their little girls. in fact, they were the ones who made a very special proposal on their daddy's behalf. >> he had sent a message, and they came in singing, hawaiian, "will you marry me?" they knew that daddy was going to be proposing to mommy as soon
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>> reporter: that place, being prison. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: was there ever a time when you thought, "i don't want to marry mary?" >> no. >> reporter: no. >> not during that time. >> reporter: you always knew. >> no. >> reporter: was there ever a time when you did not wanna time marry vili? >> i didn't expect that we would get married. but of course, i wanted to. >> reporter: i want to ask you what i asked you ten years ago. was it worth it? >> where i am today, where we are today, and our children, my older children, yes. >> next -- but to get to today, what did vili have to go through then? >> but do you ever feel that you ruined his childhood? >> while she was the public face, and in prison, what price did he pay? >> you suffered from depression? >> i'm surprised i'm still alive today. >> when "20/20" saturday
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tt2wmrstc! po j# @> i do a lot of weddings, private parties. eventually, i want to get into producing music. >> reporter: just last weekend, vili played a gig at revision lounge in new york. never one to shy away from cashing in on his strange celebrity, dj headline made headlines again a few years ago when he hosted what he called a "hot for teacher" night back home in seattle. even mary was in on the action, signing autographs. but by day, vili now works at a home garden center. getting a steady job has been tough for him. he never finished high school. mary, vili seems very mature to
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ruined his childhood? >> the only benefit, if there is any benefit, that i was away is that he had years to be without me and not in a relationship. i think, even though we did start and he was a young teenage teenager, i was gone for awhile, so, he had plenty of time to do his thing. >> reporter: that's true. i mean, vili had all those years to find someone else. there are other beautiful blondes. but you remained in your heart and your mind faithful. how did you hang onto that relationship in your head? >> barbara, he wasn't faithful. >> reporter: what'd you say? >> i said, he wasn't faithful. >> reporter: oh, he wasn't faithful. okay. your turn. >> that's why i said, he did his thing, while i was gone.
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be much more forthcoming about the private pain he endured in those formitive years of his youth. vili grew up in a rough part of seattle, estranged from his father, who spent time in prison for armed robbery. vili also had a tumultuous relationship with his mother. she worked long hours at a bakery to support them. impoverished, lonely, vulnerable. >> i'm surprised i'm still alive today. went through a really dark time, >> reporter: a time in which he became a father at just 14, and then again at 15. with mary in jail, vili was left to fend for himself. tell me about that time, and what role you had in your daughters' lives. >> it was a huge change in my life, for sure. i don't feel like i had the right support or, you know, the right help behind me. >> reporter: from your family? >> from anyone in general. i mean, my friends couldn't help me, because they had no idea
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i mean, because we were all 14, 15. >> reporter: vili dropped out of high school and his mother was granted custody of his baby daughters. it has not been an easy road for you. you suffered from depression, yes? and -- >> a lot. >> reporter: and alcoholism. how you are doing? >> i'm doing great. >> reporter: what made the difference? >> a lot of things. i mean, you're not going to fix any of your problems if you're sitting around, so, you know, you got to get up and do something about it. it's like, there's this hopelessness, you know, just like, nobody understands you. you can't talk to anyone. i just wish i had a little bit better guidance through everything. it was kind of like -- it was really confusing to me. we're going to label this kid as a victim, we're going to make this woman an example for all other teachers who try to go down the same path. i'm just left out there, like, no guidance, don't have a father, my mom's busy doing, i don't know, and no one knew how
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with it myself. >> reporter: the school didn't provide psychological help or -- >> i had counseling. but even -- i don't even think the counselors knew how to deal with it. i just felt very frustrated in counseling sessions. and i didn't want to do them anymore. >> reporter: vili says he was put on medication to help, quote, even him out. >> i didn't understand that. i was like, why do i need to be on an antidepressant pill? and they said it was to level you out so they can have a conversation with you. i said, well, in my mind, isn't that what you went to school for, to learn all that, so you could talk to me, an unleveled person, to get them leveled? a lot of it just kind of annoyed me through the years. >> reporter: in fact, vili says, he thought the best medicine would have been the one person he was pining for. >> if they had gave me more choices to make, you know, instead of just saying, oh, you can't talk to her anymore, i was like, i really do want to talk to her, though. >> reporter: vili never wavered in his love for mary, even as his mother took the school district to court, claiming they
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>> she -- she said she would strip for me. >> reporter: it meant being called in and forced to testify about their relationship. >> for every answer i got right on the test, she was going to take one part of her clothes, or one of her clothing off that she had on. >> reporter: but a jury eventually cleared the school of any responsibility. it must've been quite something to get married after all the years and everything you'd gone through. >> it was a huge relief to actually get married. and, you know, just going through all those years and then having so many questions and them not being answered. >> reporter: but now, even though they're married, vili still struggles. are you still depressed? >> i don't know. >> reporter: what don't you know? i mean, do you feel sad? >> i feel sad for a lot of parts of my life. when i start thinking about those things, you know, i think
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come from it, you know? and where can i take that and run with it, you know? >> reporter: you have a loving wife, ten-year marriage, that's more than a lot of people have. two beautiful daughters. does that give you a happy feeling? >> happy feeling, for sure, yes. feel very safe. >> reporter: very safe? >> yeah. >> next -- the constant reality check. >> you are a registered sex offender. even as i say that, i'm shocked, myself. >> how did her own children accept him, practically their same age? >> it's an awkward feeling, for sure. >> and what about their own children? >> do you know the story of how they met? >> when we come back. see me. see me. don't stare at me. see me. see me. see me to know that psoriasis is just something that i have. i'm not contagious.
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once again, barbara walters. >> reporter: mary kay and vili fualaau say that for them, the scandalous start to their romance is long since forgotten. but there are lingering reminders they can't erase. as part of her punishment, mary had her teaching license revoked. do you miss teaching? >> yes. it's a state license that's taken. so, of course, i still have my degree and all of my masters degree credits. i still have it and i have my experience and i have taught since then. i have a piano student right now. and i taught at one of the colleges, i taught math. it's not the same as having a classroom and starting the fall season. i'm still teaching. >> reporter: to make ends meet, mary works as a legal assitant. ironically, the law had been something that fascinated her even back when i first interviewed her. >> my mother had a visit in the prison, said, "you have thought
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because i was working very actively with the law, from the prison. and he said, "you'd better think about it, if you're going to marry that starving artist." >> reporter: flash forward, no law degree. but she is planning on having another day in court. you know, one of the things that amaze me was that, because of your relationship, you are a registered sex offender. even as i say that, i'm shocked, myself. does this affect your life now in any way? >> it's not part of our daily life, where we think about it. it's been ten years. there's a process. you take it to the court. and then they grant it, if it looks like it should be granted. >> yes. >> reporter: mary says her sex offender status may not affect her day to day, but earlier this year, it prohibited her from visiting her sick daughter at a
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mary has never seen herself as a sex offender. even in our first interview, she insisted she never thought her behavior was criminal. you were 34, he was 13. did you try to resist it? did you know that this was something that was wrong or that society would see as wrong? >> i definitely knew that it was bizarre. i will say that i didn't -- i didn't know that get getting into a relationship, a sexually intimate relationship, i didn't know that was a felony or a crime. i knew it wasn't right. vili and i loved each other, and still do. >> reporter: back then, mary was most emotional when discussing the relationship with her children from her first marriage. the feelings still much too raw. when you're in prison, your children were now growing up
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how did you feel about that? >> well, prison is not a safe place to touch emotions. there's not a lot of support there for that. and something as deep as the pain that my children went through, that's -- i am afraid to touch that pain. they still go to sleep at night and their mother's not there. >> reporter: how did you get through it? >> well, i lived through it by not touching the pain. >> reporter: but the years have healed some of those wounds. now, it is much easier for her to talk about her older children. they're grown. and she says, doing well. mary's even a grandmother. what is the relationship with your older children, with the children that you and vili have? >> when we were first married, they were very involved in our home. they had rooms.
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>> reporter: really? >> all of our holidays were always together. and they're very close with their sisters, our girls. and they just consider themselves one big family. >> reporter: what do they call you, the -- >> vili. >> reporter: they don't call you pop? >> no. >> reporter: yeah. >> i mean, for me, that -- it was awkward. it's an awkward feeling, for sure, you know, to be close in age with someone technically your stepson or stepdaughter. >> reporter: understandably awkward. remember, vili is only a year and a half older than mary's eldest son. do you have a good relationship with -- >> with mary's four other children? >> reporter: yeah. >> i don't really know. i don't know if it's good or bad. it was kind of just, you know, they did their own thing, i did mine. never really got too personal. >> reporter: but when it comes
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always see eye to eye. yes? what do you fight about? >> dumbest things. sometimes, well, if the girls will get in trouble for something, i wouldn't handle it the way she would. so, it would be, like, this long two-hour talk. and i'm sitting there, working on a project, and i'm, like, okay, when is this going to be over? and i think, a lot of times, i would give her a hard time about it. but it actually works in the end. >> that's the first time you ever said that. >> reporter: when we come back, you will meet those two teenage daughters for the first time. and hear the surprising bit of advice their father will give them. if one of your daughters came to you and said, "i'm sleeping with
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>> no! >> boom! >> all right. >> reporter: what kept you together? you could've given each other up. why didn't you? >> i don't know. >> reporter: what do you think? >> what kept us together all those years? well, i think the base of our relationship to begin with, because if we didn't have that base, obviously -- >> reporter: what was the base? >> just knowing each other and choosing to be with each other to begin with. if it wasn't strong enough in the beginning, it wouldn't have carried through those years. >> reporter: neither one of you have said, "because i loved him"
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was it love? >> oh, that. i thought that was just -- for granted, yeah. >> reporter: just taken for granted, okay. yet what is not in question is their love for their two girls who came with them to new york. introduce me to your -- >> all right. >> reporter: beautiful daughters. >> this is georgia. georgia, barbara. >> reporter: georgia is how old? >> georgia is 16. >> reporter: 16. >> audrey is 17. >> reporter: yeah. is he strict? >> he can be when he needs to be. >> reporter: who is -- who is stricter, mom or dad? >> mom. >> reporter: this is the first time mary and vili fualaau have permitted their daughters to appear on television. 17-year-old audrey was born just before mary kay began serving her seven and a half-year sentence. but 16-year-old georgia alexis was born behind prison walls. do you know the story of how they met? >> yes, i do.
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by the controversial circumstances under which they came into the world. and by all appearances, they are two talented and well-adjusted teenage girls. >> they're both in choir. they sing. >> i forgot the words. >> reporter: that's lovely. what kind of a father is vili? >> probably why i looked so forward to getting married is because i already knew what kind of father he was. just knowing his personality and how invested he was in being a father. >> reporter: what kind of a mother is mary? >> very strict. very strict. she's a very good mom, very -- couldn't be more happier to have
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children. she's very good with them. >> reporter: from the time they were toddlers, audrey and georgia knew their mother was not like other mothers, in part because their interaction was limited to visits to the washington correction center for women. >> our girls were coming to see me. they knew where i was. >> reporter: when you were in prison. >> yes. they knew where i was. there were special mother-daughter days. and so, anyway, our girls knew that mommy and daddy were separated. >> reporter: they say their girls grew up knowing mom and dad were notorious, recognized out in public, and occasionally seen on tv. but mary says she and vili never felt compelled to tell the girls why. what did you tell your children about how you met and what you went through?
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aware -- there was never a sitdown chat, now is the time we're going to talk to our chirp about this. it -- they seemed to already know, because they grew up with it, there's just never been a, wow, we better explain. >> reporter: but in lieu of that sitdown chat that never was, the girls were left to do their own research as they came of age, and between google and gossip, they grew their own conclusions. >> you know what's interesting is that one of our daughters just out of the blue, said, "you know, your and daddy's relationship, it would be okay in whatever country." and i was like, "well, you're right." "so you wouldn't have been in trouble in that country, mommy." and i was like, "you're right." >> reporter: audrey graduates from high school this coming june and will attend community college in the fall. georgia is a sophmore and a cheerleader. like many fathers, vili has warned his daughters off
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daughters? >> oh, yes, he does. do you know that he told them several years ago that they a boyfriend? and i thought to myself, "that's not going to work." no, i just thought, how could you ever tell, you know, a young girl that's in middle school and just starting high school, you cannot have a boyfriend? >> the reason for me telling them that was -- just from out of experience, you know, just living life, and when you're that young, a relationship, you know, could lead to something that you think you wanted back then, you don't really want it maybe years later. and so, don't ever get too serious about it. don't put your all into something when you know it's just temporary. >> reporter: vili, you fell in love with -- >> yeah. >> reporter: mary when you were 14 years old and you're giving advice to your daughters not to get involved with any young man? >> yeah. sounds crazy. yeah. >> reporter: don't you feel a little bit hypocritical? >> yes, i do.
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>> reporter: and consider this -- both girls are now older than vili was when he amd mary kay conceived them. if one of your daughters came to you and said, "i'm sleeping with my teacher," what would you say? >> what? >> reporter: what? yeah, okay. i think it would be the same reaction that any parent would have, you know, if their children came up and said, you know, "i'm in love with my teacher." >> what about if they said they were sleeping with anyone? we would say the same thing. so -- >> yeah, it would just -- that in general, you know, "i'm sleeping with someone, i'm in love with someone." i still, you know, even it's just a boy, you know, of their own age, i'm still -- >> reporter: what would you say? >> i don't know, really, how to deal with it. >> reporter: when it happened with the two of you, it was shocking. if you heard about it with one of your daughters, would you be shocked? would you think jail? they should be punished? what would you think? >> there wouldn't be something going on behind my back that i
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children, that i would be shocked. >> but i don't support younger kids, you know, being married or having a relationship with someone older. i don't support it. >> reporter: right now, the girls are planning an anniversary vacation for their mom and dad in hawaii, where vili's family comes from. and as they serenaded me with their sweet voices, i thought their choice of this ed sheeran song was most apporopriate. people fall in love in mysterious ways >> reporter: mystertious ways indeed. an ode to their parents' romance, which, all these years later, is still, for some many, considered a crime.
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use #abc2020. tonight. thank you so much for watching. i'm elizabeth vargas. for david and all of us here at "20/20" saturday and abc news, have a great night and a great weekend. . breaking news another deadly earthquake, this (harold) looks like australia. (rob) i'm telling you, it's a western omelette. (jeremy) fellas! (harold) hey! what you got there? (jeremy) a new york lottery scratch-off game. you know, for fun. even here. oh, look. it's carol. (harold) that is how you get to be senior associate supervisor.


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